In the UK alone, the music industry is worth £5.2 billion, the growing industry has the cycle of introducing new talent for it to circle around the charts for two months. Out of all this talent, women make up just 21% of artists, 12% of songwriters and 2% of producers. The huge gender divide is not something many would notice; if anything, female artists might seem represented everywhere. Dua Lipa’s hits fill the silence of the radio, Billie Eilish is constantly being painted across the media and Rita Ora somehow keeps returning to television competitions. However, looking at festival lineups across the nation, in 2015 at electronic music festival Creamfields, out of its three hundred acts, only five were female. With campaigns like KeyChange, with their 145 partnering festivals, they have signed the pledge to create a 50:50 gender balance by 2022. You can slowly see the progression this campaign is making by bringing female industry professionals together and using workshops and collaborations to bring out the diversity the music industry needs.
Vanessa Reed, founder of KeyChange, knows a lot about working at major music companies as she was CEO of the PRS Foundation for 11 years funding new music and talent across the nation and now she has taken the role of president and CEO of New Music USA. The 30% Gender Pay Gap is something Reed said has played a hugely important role and calls the lack of women in the business something from like another century. Reed has helped bring festivals like Oslo World to have a 60% female representation and Statement Festival, a woman only festival launched in Stockholm in response to sexual assaults at other Swedish festivals. Punk act Frank Carter also works to dedicate his songs and setlists to women in his audiences with songs just for women to crowd surf to create a sense of community and safety at his shows. When watching The Super bowl, Demi Lovato was angelic singing the national anthem and two very impressive Latina women took over the half time show to deliver an incredible performance. With the recent drop of the Reading and Leeds lineup, Radio DJ Annie Mac was appalled at their “blatant lack of want” to represent women in the music industry huge. Other music professionals such as Matt Healy from The 1975 claiming to stop playing gender-biased festivals showing how this is more relevant than ever.
The Grammys is a huge part of the industry where artists are honored and celebrated but A new study from the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, “Inclusion in the Recording Studio?,” finds that women are mostly absent from the Grammys. Only 10.4% of Grammy nominees from 2013 to 2019 were women, and for the first time in seven years, a woman was nominated for Producer of the Year. (Spoiler alert: she didn’t win). Success stories we have all heard is Billie Eilish who won five out the six awards she was nominated for including the big four! Eilish is an artist we should all look up to at the very young age of 18, Billie has been praised for her talent that was created in a tiny bedroom and still is! Not big studios, with technology that looks like it was made for space but just a laptop and a microphone. She now battles stereotypes with her statement style as she doesn’t allow the press and media to inappropriately sexualise her like many other female artists currently in the industry.
The meaning of this article is to highlight the success women have had and the change that has already started but also to inspire and build future generations of women looking to venture into this fascinating and dynamic industry. Women need to work together and support each other to create the change needed to develop a gender balanced music industry. A start is looking at something as small as an Instagram account. Shesaid.so is an Instagram account set to build relationships and advertise marketing jobs across the UK and America. It is so easy to get involved with and can perhaps turn into something bigger. Small and simple changes is what can build an industry of representation and respect where inclusivity is key and music is at the heart of every step.